#2 The Puffer Fish

May 10, 2016



The second of the '4 people you'll meet on earth' series, is the Puffer fish.


Puffer fish are fairly pleasant fish, well intended and quietly going about their daily routine without much fanfare. Other fish typically enjoy being around them.....at least most of the time.


We puffer fish are generally agreeable and particularly empathetic. 

That's the problem. 

We can be so empathetic that when we observe those who are less so, or worse, those who are downright cruel, without warning we blow up like a beach ball, bringing to bear quills that are razor sharp. That is why we puffers have a particular contempt for porcupines. They are our natural enemy.


What we are blind to, however, is our own hypocrisy. Our moral indignation prevents us from seeing an irony that is readily apparent to other fish. 

Namely, we have a tendency to become porcupines to porcupines. We become unjust toward the unjust. Tyrannical to tyrants. Cruel to the cruel.


While porcupines are indiscriminately injurious, puffer fish are selectively so. That’s why we are more dangerous. Porcupines are easy to spot and therefore, guard against. We are not. Most don't see us coming. If the porcupine is Mr Hyde, we are more Jekyll/Hyde.


I once had a puffer fish for a middle school english teacher at Washington Junior High in Rock Island, IL. I loved her class....until the day someone violated one of her moral imperitives. At that point, our otherwise warm, soft spoken teacher went puffer, screaming at the top of her lungs at this poor, surprised student. We all sat their stunned, silent, wondering, 'Who ARE you and what did you do with our teacher?!' 

In retrospect, I preferred porcupine teachers to puffer fish, simply because the rules were simple. Prepare for, and expect, the worst and you won't get hurt. Not so, puffer fish. Porcupines are at least consistent. Puffers are not, and that’s what makes us more lethal.


King David could puff with the best of 'em. Do you remember when Nathan, the prophet, told David a story about a powerful man who had committed a series of injustices? Like a good puffer fish, David rose up in righteous indignation, asking Nathan how he might punish said man and correct this gross injustice. Nathan replied, 'You ARE that man.'


David’s contempt for predatory porcupines blinded him to the possibility that he had become precisely that. Because of the just nature of his cause, David couldn’t see just how unjust he was capable of becoming. 

The problem is that other people's feelings don't care nearly as much about the nobility of our cause, as they do the temperature of our disposition.

Warmly, (at least some of the time :-)





“Christians are hard to tolerate; 
I don’t know how Jesus does it”

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